Preview 9 of 82: Pelicans @ Thunder
Time: 7:00 PM CST
TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma / NBA TV
Game Notes: Thunder / Pelicans
The Oklahoma City Thunder (4-4) appear to be rounding into shape after a disappointing start to the 2018-19 season. Winners of four straight, including a complete dismantling of the Washington Wizards last Friday night, the Thunder will look to keep it rolling tonight at home against Anthony Davis and the struggling New Orleans Pelicans (4-5).
Tip-off is at 7:00 PM CST and will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma and NBA TV. The Thunder are 4.5-point home favorites according to Odds Shark.
- Andre Roberson: Out — Knee
- Anthony Davis: Probable — Elbow
- Elfrid Payton: Out — Ankle
Pelicans: Jrue Holiday, E’Twaun Moore, Wesley Johnson, Nikola Mirotic, Anthony Davis
What to Watch For
Pelican Seesaw: The Pelicans started the season 4-0, but have lost five in a row coming into tonight. While an 0-5 stretch looks terrible on anyone’s schedule, those losses were to the Jazz, Nuggets, Warriors, Blazers, and Spurs — and three of the five were without Anthony Davis. Things aren’t always as they seem on paper.
The Brow: Davis is off to his standard blistering start this season, coming into tonight averaging 23.8 points, 12.2 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 3.5 blocks per contest. Although he’s already missed three games to injury, all signs point to him being active tonight in Oklahoma City. He’s a match-up nightmare in basically every sense, so it will take a group effort to slow the big man down. In 13 head-to-head match-ups with Steven Adams, the Brow has averaged 30.8 points and 9.8 rebounds — including a 43-point, 10-rebound performance last season. Nerlens Noel might be in line for some additional minutes, but there’s no magic bullet when dealing with a superstar like Davis. He’ll get his.
Jrue & Nikola: If it’s not Davis you’re worried about, it should probably be Jrue Holiday (18.6 PPG, 8.2 APG) and Nikola Mirotic (22.4 PPG, 10.9 RPG). With Elfrid Payton sidelined due to injury, Holiday will assume point guard duties opposite Russell Westbrook. He’s not much of a threat from long range but was First Team All-Defense last season and capable of making plays. As for Mirotic, he’s developing into a threat from everywhere on the floor. He’s shooting 36.5 percent from long range this season and is always ready to catch and shoot when the defense collapses on Davis. The Thunder can’t afford to get too preoccupied with defending the Brow.
Offensive Consistency: The Thunder have yet to put together a complete offensive effort this season (even last Friday’s win started with a 10-point deficit), but tonight offers an opportunity against the NBA’s 29th-ranked scoring defense. The Pelicans are giving up 120.6 points per game so far in 2018-19 — although, again, Davis has missed three of the first nine games and he dramatically changes their defense. Regardless, some more of that Thunder offense from the last three quarters against Washington would be a welcomed sight.
Buckle Up: Vegas has the projected scoring total in this one to be 235.5 — which is 16 points higher than any other game on tonight’s NBA schedule. Oddsmakers are expecting this one to be fast-paced and full of offense, which makes sense considering some of the weaponry on both sides. This should be a fun game to watch — and one that might come down to whoever can either score last or get a stop when it’s needed most.
Nick Gallo’s game day report: